NPR’s Weekend Edition interviewed a working princess; she pretties up birthday parties and birthday party clowns? Well, they mess ‘em up with balloon dogs and crying kids. FYI, the princess party industry has been recession proof, if you’re unemployed with access to your old prom dresses, it’s something to consider.
I have little experience with princesses. My dad famously bellowed that he was not going to raise any goddamn princesses! That’s how my sister and I learned to do any number of un-princess like tasks. Besides, princess outfits from stores were not for girls with big feet or baby fat, but that’s another insulting childhood tale, for another time.
I liked her, but princess-as-role-model for whatever she imagined little children projecting onto her? Power, control or importance, stuck in my craw, because let’s face it, princesses are not in charge or particularly powerful. Kate Middleton, powerful? I don’t think she’s shaping foreign policy or making any moves that aren’t palace- approved. Sadie mentioned Princess Diaries as an example of a powerful princess, okay, but that’s an exception.
Most often a princess garners her status (mistakenly perceived as power) from:
a. being born to a king and queen (a queen having a child out of wedlock wouldn’t create an official heir — I just made that up, but I bet I’m right) b. marrying a prince who was disguised as a commoner (proving that she never really wanted princess power and she’s selfless) c. being kissed (because she is so gorgeous even dead, think Snow White) and brought back to life by a prince d. being kind, sweet, accommodating and here’s the most important part, gorgeous. That’s all it takes. If a girl is all that, divine providence will intercept an otherwise ordinary life, and poof, makes a PRINCESS.
Reality television is filled with princess wannabes, waiting for the intervention from above, and frankly, they come by their fantasy honestly, having been feed Disney for breakfast since they began to walk. If you don’t believe me, watch any of the wedding dress shows, watch the Kardashians, watch Real Housewives of La-La-Land, an air of entitlement, minus a wand, wrapped in a crinoline layer of delusional narcissism, entrances.
A princess, on the final page or in the final frame, lives happily ever after, and we all know that requires attention to details beyond a three word finale. Happily ever after shifts and changes and requires us to find meaning and passion inside our lives, beyond any gem studded crown. Maybe the lack of instruction regarding happily ever after, is where we fail our little girls and boys most. Forget about whether or not to hire a birthday party princesses, or if she’s a role model, or the inherent importance of a princess, maybe the real problem is where we wrap the story up. We wrap the thing at the beginning, when the princess has just become a princess, as if that’s all that’s required to live happily ever after. And the young women weeping over their wedding dresses on reality television, maybe they’re really weeping because once they’ve worn the dress, they thought they’d be happily ever after?